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Carla Eaton

Doctor of Philosophy, (Genetics)
Study Completed: 2009
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Investigation of the signalling involved in maintaining the mutually beneficial association between Epichloe festucae and perennial ryegrass

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Ms Eaton used molecular genetic approaches to study the mutually beneficial association between a fungal endophyte and perennial ryegrass. Maintenance of this beneficial association requires communication between the fungus and its host plant in order to control the growth of the fungus within its host. Ms Eaton identified three key genes involved in this communication, with loss of two of these genes resulting in a switch from a beneficial to detrimental association. A mutant lacking one of these genes was also shown to dramatically alter the growth of its grass host, inducing the formation of bulb-like structures at the base of infected tillers resulting in an appearance similar to that of spring onions. Ms Eaton’s work has highlighted the fine balance that exists between beneficial and detrimental associations. This work also provides fundamental insights into why some fungi are pathogens on plants and others are beneficial symbionts.

Professor Barry Scott
Professor Jeremy Hyams

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